Saturday, June 27, 2009

Happy Saturday! Wow! It was so hot today! I hope this writing finds you some place cool with something cold to drink.

Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I, Am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

Do you want to know how much God loves us? God loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. I know you already knew that. But tonight I was reading a devotion written by Max Lucado. He shares this scripture and speaks of the cross as being a finished work. God loves us so much that He not only wants to share our earthly lives with us, but our eternal lives as well. Since nothing imperfect can live in the Kingdom of Heaven then we must be forgiven here on earth by the radically, extravagant, eternal grace of the One who knows us best and loves us most.

Tonight I wanted to try a new recipe. We went to the store to buy the ingredients. When I got home I discovered that I had forgotten to buy a very key ingredient. The recipe and our dinner could not be finished until that final ingredient arrived. (thank you, Travis!) The dish was now complete.

We humans usually do not deal well with things that are incomplete. We like a finished product. When something is missing it usually nags at our minds until we complete the task or creation. Our lives without a daily walk with Christ are like my recipe without the missing ingredient. And in this case no substitutions would suffice. There is nothing on this side of heaven that can make us complete except the loving, perfect grace of God. God loves us so much that He was willing to sacrifice His own Son for our sins. That sacrifice was so complete that He, the Father of all creation, the Lord of Hosts and King of Kings is willing not only to forgive our sins, but to blot them from His memory and remember them no more. Friends, that is the most powerful love of which I know.

Sometime today find a moment to give thanks to God for His wonderful grace. Thank Him for filling the emptiness and making us complete. Being complete does not mean we are perfect, but it does mean we are forgiven. Take joy in the journey and find some shade. See you in worship. Love you, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Happy Friday! Today I received a phone call from a friend who was asking me about praying for someone. In the conversation I learned that there were some past hurts with this person that have never been reconciled. The person in need of prayer was heading for surgery.

Acts 7: 60 “He fell on his knees and cried in a loud voice, “Lord do not hold this sin against them.” I could not believe this scripture was going to be my meditation tonight.

Dear friend, I hope this helps. The fact is that even though there are those who hurt us and hurt us so deeply, God loves those people just as much as He loves us. As long as we carry around unforgiveness in our heart it is like placing our hearts in a box and closing the lid. When we do not forgive we live in darkness. Does being angry, desiring to even the score or even hating someone solve anything? When I am feeling these feelings I am the one living in sin and these feelings separate me from the love of the God who loves me so much that He chose to die to show His love and forgiveness for my sins.

When I forgive someone who hurt me and especially someone who hurt me so deeply that I think the wounds will never heal, it is like opening the box and letting in the light. The light is the light of God’s love.

It is not my job to judge someone; God says that is His job. But because I have been forgiven so completely by the work of the cross through the death of Jesus, it is my job to reflect the light of God’s love on all I meet, especially those who have caused hurt in my life. I know when it is hard for me to love and forgive someone who has hurt me or someone I love (especially someone who has hurt someone I love) I ask God to forgive them and love them for me until I am able.

I have had many things occur in my life that were not fair. In the last year and a half I have learned that life is not fair and sometimes tough times come. I am sure all of us have had unfair things occur. But God never promised a life of fairness. He did promise to be with us through the times that are hard. When friends and loved ones fail us or bail on us, God’s love is still there for us.

Go to God in prayer when the hurt is there. Seek His comfort in His Word and His loving arms of promise will heal your broken heart.

Take joy in the journey. Love you all and stay cool, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Happy Thursday! I began this day on the deck with a cup of coffee, the computer and a few quiet moments. I soon learned that Farrah Fawcett had lost her battle with cancer. I was saddened by this as I know how this horrible disease is so evil that all it does is take and take and never gives anything. Cancer does not know fame, age, fortune or poverty. It does not know prestige or lowliness. It does not know male, female or the character and heart of the host in which it attaches itself. It simply invades and then goes on the attack.

Proverbs 19:21 “People can make all kinds of plans, but only the Lord’s plans will happen.”

I close each journal entry with the phrase “take joy in the journey.” I remember when I began closing my nightly updates on Casey’s progress with this phrase. Casey and I were in Houston at MD Anderson Hospital. For a place that deals with the most devastating disease imaginable, the hospital is a place of joy. The chemotherapy had beaten Casey up pretty badly and it seemed that all we were receiving was discouraging news and he was so terribly sick. I was 300 miles from Bruce, Geni and Travis, my church, my job and my dogs. I hadn’t slept in our bed in a very long time and Satan was on the attack with discouragement. And then one day I just got tired and told Satan that he had no power here and to take a hike. That was when I remembered who was in charge of this journey. It was not me, it was not the staff at MD Anderson and it was not Satan. It was God. I remembered that scripture from Romans that said, “If God be for us who can be against us.” When I claimed that scripture my spirits became lighter and joy returned. It was the turning point for me in the journey with Casey.

God did not choose cancer as Casey’s destiny. Cancer just happened. What God chose for Casey is the same thing He chooses for all of us. God chose salvation to be our destiny. God’s plan for each of us is to know Him through His Son, Jesus and to experience the joy He has destined for each of through the power of the Holy Spirit. God’s plans and His itinerary include stops that encourage our journey. The moment I remembered that God was in control was a stop of encouragement that allowed me to face and work through whatever the next step in Casey’s care needed to be.

So I guess tonight’s question is “Who is in charge of your journey?” Is discouragement, fear, sadness, uncertainty, separation or bitterness in charge? Or is the loving heart and guiding hand of the Father leading you to places of encouragement?

Take joy in the journey friends. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Happy Thursday! I pray this writing finds all of you well and in some place where there is cool air. I got up early this morning to work in the yard. Remember I am a novice gardener. Yesterday I purchased some begonias to plant around the Casey Tree. Bruce had noticed that the plants I had lining the sidewalk were turning brown rapidly. Now, I am faithful to water the plants, but they were still not thriving. Bruce’s observation was that the sidewalk in this 100 degree weather was too hot for the plants and was causing their unfortunate demise.

Ecclesiastes 4:9 “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts.”

I was willing to let the plants stay there on the sidewalk, but Bruce had noticed the heat from the sidewalk on his own feet and thought that might be what was causing the plants to die no matter how I was caring for them. Even though the planting and watering is primarily my project I was so glad for Bruce’s input. The result is that I have moved all of the plants from the sidewalk to the lawn area in front of the porch. We will see if this combined effort produces a good reward.
God never intended for any of us to go through this life alone. God came into relationship with us through Jesus. And God expects us to continue that same relationship through Jesus, by being in relationship with His people.

Our friendships are vital to our spiritual, mental and emotional well-being. Besides daily prayer and interaction with Bruce and the kids, I have fellowship prayer weekly with the Burton Hill Fellowship group and group prayer with the Praise Team at rehearsal each week. I treasure these times of fellowship with our family as well as the singing at Praise Team rehearsal and the Burton Hill Fellowship. Being a part of these groups has allowed me the privilege of building relationships based on Christ’s love in each of our lives. Even though there are times when I am really tired and would just like to stay at home and vegetate in front of the TV, I remember how much better I feel when I have met with God’s people and discover a renewed energy that wasn’t there before. (There are even times when I think I am too tired or it is too late to have nightly devotion and write this entry!) But then I realize that something is my day is missing and I must read a passage of scripture and ask God for the message He wishes me to have for that particular passage. And then I write.

So friends, take time to be in relationship with your families and the rest of God’s people in your lives. The road is not near as long and rocky when you have God’s people surrounding you with encouragement, support and Christ-like love.

Love you all so very much. Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.
Happy Tuesday!

Philippians 2:1-4 “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”

Today the Burton Hill Fellowship met in our home. We shared wonderful food, conversation, concerns, prayer requests, shared answered prayers, thankful praises and this passage of scripture. We discussed how this passage was written for each of us in how we should treat others; not just those who know to be believers, but those who perhaps are not walking with Christ. Remember last week when we studied that the more we know about Christ and the more of our lives we submit to Christ the greater He becomes? We have to become less so Christ can become more.

Today, there were six of us who met for prayer and study. Each of us is in a different stage of our life. Some of us have grown children living at home, some have younger children at home, some have children who are grown and are living away from home and today one of our sisters has a step-daughter who lives away from her home.

There is probably a 20 year age span in this group of women. But we care for each other, listen to each other’s joys and concerns and fervently pray for each other. We encourage each other when the way seems long and hard. We pray for each family represented. Today, after we finished, we went to the plant nursery. Each of us has different levels of expertise and knowledge of plants and how and where they grow best, The more experienced ones assisted those of us who were novices (that would be me!) in plant selection. Lisa, our reigning plant queen patiently answered all of our questions and after we had all made our selections she made hers. She put herself after all of us. Her Christ-like attitude was one of selfless patience.

Christ came to earth to show us the heart of the Father. He came to model the Godly characteristics of encouragement, comfort, love, tenderness, compassion and complete joy. Christ did nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but offered Himself in humility to consider the needs of others before His own. Jesus taught us through His unfailing and perfect love for each of us to not look to our own interests to the interests of others.

The bottom line is the last verse of this passage that says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” We have a perfect model to follow along this journey. I know of only One who met the expectations in this passage of scripture and could do it all in one single act. The rest of us have a lifetime to meet these expectations. So as we walk along this journey of faith let us encourage each other with the love of Christ and take joy in the journey.

Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Happy Monday! Shortly after spring break a group of teachers at my school began to meet once a week before school for prayer, share and a brief study in the Word. We are continuing this practice through the summer but instead of meeting at school we are meeting in homes. Tuesday we are meeting at my house. I hope it will still be cool enough at 10:00 to eat, pray, share and study outside. Our time together has only two rules; (1) whatever is said within the group stays within the group and (2) in this time together we are sisters in Christ without any other titles or positions. We keep a payer journal and choose prayer partners for the coming week. It is a time we have all come to treasure. During the school year we all agree it helps each of us to begin our day better and more focused.

Psalm140:6-7 “Listen, Lord, to my cry for help. Lord God my strong Savior. You shield my head on the day of battle.”

A devotional magazine I was reading spoke of the storms of life. We don’t know when the storms of life will come, but storms are guaranteed. In John 16:33, Jesus said, “You will have suffering in the world.” All we can do is ask God to prepare us for the storm, to shape our character in faith and to grow during the storm. Each of us knows someone who has gone through or is going through some type of tough time. We ourselves have gone through difficult journeys and will walk rocky uneven paths in our lives.

So here is the plan for weathering each storm:

First, remember how much God loves us. If we anchor ourselves to Him and stay in the eye of the storm then the storm will rage around us then God will protect us with His mighty arm and outstretched arm.

Second, stay connected to God in prayer. Talk to God throughout the day making your requests known to Him.

Third, stay in the Word. The Word is where we learn the heart of God and get to know the character of God. The Word is the vehicle through which God speaks to His people.

Last, even when we would like to hide and be alone during the time of trial, seek out other believers and surround yourselves with the love of God through His people, accepting help when it is needed.

Our prayer group is learning to trust one another in ways other than just through the bonds of being colleagues. We are learning to trust and love each others as loving sisters in Christ. So sisters, welcome to our home, and take joy in the journey.

Love you all so very much. Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Blessed Sunday and Happy Father’s Day to all of the Dads out there.

We went to Mom and Dad’s today. I mastered the grill and the dads (Bruce and my Dad) relaxed and did some planning for a deck to be built in Mom and Dad’s backyard when the weather gets cooler. Daddy also gave me a smoker. I am so excited. Travis and a friend are going to go to Howe one day this week and get the smoker and bring it home. Travis says, “Let’s buy half a cow.” We were blessed today with a wonderful lunch, loving family time including my Aunt Wanda and her little dog Abigail. My proudest moment was when Mom asked Travis to lead the blessing today.

Mark 4:41 “ [They] said to one another, “Who then is this that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

I love this story. There are so many things to learn from this one story. But tonight, I wish to think about authority. I spend today with my dad. I grew up with him and mom being the voices of authority in our home. They seemed to always work it out together. But, I still think of his voice being the voice of authority. When Daddy said something it was usually a done deal and most of the time there was no going back when he spoke his final word. I may not have agreed with his decision, but I always respected what he said. And talking back was never an issue. As I said before I may not have always agreed with him, but inside there was a comfort level somewhere that said that he had my best interests at heart and was letting me know how much he loved me even when he said no or had to scold me. I guess what I am trying to say is that Dad has always been there watching out and helping me through this life no matter what the situation. He and Mom were completely supportive during this last year in the loss of their grandson, Casey. The bottom line is that no matter what the situation Dad’s love for my brother and me was never in question and we came first with him.

Jesus was asleep on the boat. The disciples were in a fearful panic as the storm rose and the waves rocked the boat. Then they chose to scold the Master. Well now, there is a really smart thing to do. No wonder they were called the “duh” ciples! These men had seen amazing miracles performed by Jesus. They had witnessed Him read, interpret and preach on the scriptures in the temple. The elders had even used the word “authority” when speaking of Jesus understanding of the scriptures. And yet, these men who followed Him, lived with Him, loved Him and called Him Rabboni did not trust that, even asleep, Jesus was in command. Jesus commanded the wind and the waves to be still. The sea obeyed the Master and became calm. The disciples once again witnessed the authority of Christ and were saved.

Where is the authority of Jesus in our lives? How much are we willing to trust His authority in our lives? Are we willing to trust His loving authority and His call to obedience in our lives? When the storm comes who do we call on first? We call on Christ. Are we willing to walk the path of loving obedience after the storm is calm? Just some thoughts…

Take joy in the journey. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.
Happy Saturday! And Happy Father’s Day Eve to all the dads out there.

Matthew 22: 37, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and with all your mind.”

This is Bruce’s first Father’s Day without his first born son in 25 years. Casey was born the day after Father's Day in 1984, but we always considered him Bruce's Father's Day present that year. Bruce is currently busying himself with reconstructing his computer and desk after attempting to reconfigure it this afternoon. I have thought about Casey today and thought that even though he is not here to honor his earthly father, he is in heaven honoring his heavenly Father. I would imagine Casey does that each day. I remember on the day Casey was born and for a long time Bruce seemed the only man who had ever produced a son. On our way home from the hospital Bruce had to stop at his office to show off his boy and then after we got home one of the neighborhood kids came by with a new puppy. Bruce showed Casey to the puppy. Bruce was also there as Casey came into this world and he was there when Casey left this world to be with his heavenly Father.

Bruce and I have always treasured our children and throughout our lives we have worked to instill in our children that your family comes first and that no matter what the problem is, there is a way to work it out. But since Casey’s passing we have become even closer to Geni and Travis and treasure each moment we have with them. Tonight dinner was on the deck. We talked about everything and nothing and it was wonderful.

You know that song, “They Will Know We are Christians by Our Love”? The love that is spoken about in this song is the love that God has for us, the love we have for God, the love we have for each other and the love we are supposed to show to all in whom we come into contact. WOW! That is a lot of love. The song says, we will “work with each other.” Sometimes the people we work with are like sandpaper. You know, they sometimes “rub us the wrong way”? God loves those people just as much as He loves us. If we are growing in the likeness of God then we must learn to love the “sandpaper” people too. The purpose of sandpaper is to smooth out the rough places and make the wood smooth, even and splinter free. We are not perfect so splinters appear from time to time. I think that is what forgiveness is all about. God’s love and forgiveness is what removes the splinters from our souls. We may not like everyone with whom we work, but our job is not to like their actions, but to love them.

The song also says, “we will walk with each other.” When we walk with each other we walk in support. I have a bag given to me by a friend from church with Casey’s name on it. It is a bag from the cancer walk. It held a light. These men and women walk in support of loved ones who have won their battle with cancer, who are still fighting a battle with cancer or who have lost their battle.

And finally, “all praise to the Father from whom all things come.” It is hard to find the words of praise when loss and a broken heart are at the forefront of my thinking, but God our Father promises to bring peace out of chaos, turn sorrow and suffering into joy and peace and fear into grace and glory. I was fortunate that my earthly father did everything he could (and praise God still does) to do those things for me and was the parental model for me so I could raise my family in a Godly manner.

So to Geni and Travis, your daddy loves you more than you will ever know. You won’t really understand that love until you have children of your own. Then you will understand how God has worked in the life of your dad and you in turn can raise your children to look to their heavenly Father because you have been raised not only by a loving earthly father, but a heavenly Father who loves you with an eternal love more selfless, extravagant, limitless and unquenchable than our earthly understanding can comprehend.

So children, if you have the opportunity to see your dads tomorrow tell them how much you love them. And if you do not for whatever reason get to see your dads, remember to say thank you to your heavenly Father and I am sure He will pass the word along.

Take joy in the journey. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.